Friday, February 08, 2013

How to Mail a Package (Now in Six Easy Steps!)

Seriously, I thought learning to mail a package was a life skill learned early, but I guess that's what you get when your entire family is employed by the United States Postal Service. I have recently learned that mailing a package is not something everyone knows how to do. Here are the easy steps.

1.  Gather what you want to ship.  Today I am shipping a welcome to the world present for a baby girl.  Do you want awesome flannel burp cloths in fun designs that won't fall off your shoulder like those slippery ones?  You can get them here.  Do you want a cute little rattle/teether with the baby's name engraved on it?  You can get one here.  (Not a cent has ever been made on this web site. I purchase these things over and over and over again for new baby presents.  They are awesome.)

2.Gather supplies for packaging.  I'm going to use a box here, as it traditional, but you can mail envelopes, and, as my dear mother likes to do, tubes.  My mom frequently empties a Gatorade bottle, puts funny things in it, tapes an address label on it, and mails it.  Whatever works, as long as it's safe for the postal workers and you can adhere labels to it.  Also, tissue paper, packing tape, a writing utensil, a pair of scissors, and a brown paper bag.

3.Put your goodies inside the box/envelope/Gatorade bottle.

4.Make sure there are no other labels on your mailing device. Since I'm using an old amazon box, I'm just going to wrap it in brown paper.  If there's only one other bar code or something, feel free to just black it out with a marker.

5. Address your box.  If you are addressing a box or envelope, remember that you should address parallel to the longest side of the box. Interestingly (to me, anyway), this is why it's more expensive to send square envelopes. It makes the postal equipment crazy!

6. Take your package to the post office. During a winter storm advisory.  Or not.  You know, it probably can wait.  Anyway, this is probably the most complicated part.  The crotchety person at the counter (why are USPS counter workers always so grumpy?  it's a legitimate question - my mom works for the post office and even she asks this question) will give you a million options for how to ship.

I. Express - This is super expensive and not worth it unless you absolutely need overnight delivery. If you do need overnight delivery, might I suggest FedEx or UPS instead because their tracking systems are better.

II. Priority mail - This will give you two to three day delivery. Usually what I go with. It's not super expensive and they put priority mail stickers all over your package which is something I like.

III. Standard mail - I think this used to be called ground? or economy? or something else?  Anyway, it's 2-8 days and most of the time with packages the size and weight that I send, priority is only 20-30 cents more and it's much faster, so I go with it.

IV.  Media mail - You can use this if you are buying/selling/trading books with BookMooch, which is the most ingenious thing I have ever learned about from Mimi Smartypants.


Okay, okay, you say. This doesn't sound so bad.  But what if I don't have a box, envelope, or Gatorade bottle that fits what I want to send?  Don't fret, my friend.

You can gather up what you want to ship and take it over the Post Office. They have shipping supplies for sale there or you can get an Express or Priority box and get the flat rate.  *sigh* So many shipping options, so little time.


  1. I send parcels so often. Just today I have a carseat to send. Yup! A big-ass carseat. The box is absolutely at the exact maximum of size that I can ship to Canada with Priority packages. I guess we'll see if by some chance it is half an inch too big and what will happen!

  2. I never thought of using a Gatorade bottle! That's hilarious.

    Your house slippers look great. I prefer clogs, but understand your reasons against them. My winter slippers are a pair of lined Crocs which have room for my orthotics. In the summer in Dallas, it's just too hot for anything like that, but bare feet started to hurt. So, I have another pair of plain Crocs clogs for summer. Opposite needs in terms of temperature!

  3. This reminds me of yesterday's trip to the PO where a lady went off the chain because the postal clerk wouldn't help her with a FedEx package. Ok, what?????? Some people...

  4. You would be surprised what life skills people lack. I often joke with my coworkers that I'm going to teach a class someday on how to put a pair of shoes in a shoebox. All shoes have the same basic principle of how to get them to fit in their box - but you would be floored by how often I watch people put the shoes in upright and then try close the lid. Then they get frustrated because they don't understand why the lid isn't closing.


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